Why Is Building an Inground Pool So Expensive?

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How Much Does an Indoor Pool Cost?Costa Christ

One of the best ways to beat the scalding summer heat is to take a swim in a pool. But having to drive to a friend's house or your local public watering hole can be a bigger hassle than it's worth. If you spend more time at the pool than anywhere else during the summer months, it may be time to consider building your own. It's not a small expense, but the indoor pool cost benefit analysis definitely will pay off for you. It'll be well worth it when floating the days away and napping in a chaise on the deck increases your happiness and your home's overall value. Besides, what's better than being able to go from work to play by simply walking outside?

But how much does an inground pool cost? According to HomeGuide, the total cost of an inground pool ranges from $28,000 to $55,000, including labor and materials. To fact-check that estimate, we looked at the average cost for all the line items involved in pool installation. When we added up those numbers ourselves, we found that installing a top-of-the-line inground pool can easily exceed $150,000, especially when you factor in must-have elements like landscaping and maintenance. Below, we break down this number even further, so you know exactly where every dollar is going.

pool area
Stephen Kent Johnson

What Type of Inground Pool Is Right for You?

Before you can dive in—or break ground—you need to determine what kind of inground pool is right for you and your backyard. The three most common kinds of inground pools are vinyl, fiberglass, and concrete. Fiberglass is less expensive in the long run, but because it's made in a mold there are limited shapes, sizes, and design options to choose from. Vinyl, on the other hand, is molded into the hole, which means it can be as small or large as you want in nearly any shape, but it can tear and sag unlike fiberglass or concrete. Concrete pools offer the most customization options and are more durable than vinyl or fiberglass, but they are vastly more expensive as a result. Vinyl and concrete pools require more maintenance but are cheaper to install.

Inground Pool Cost Breakdown

If you're considering hiring a professional inground pool installation company or landscape architecture firm to handle your project, be sure to check whether their estimate for the project includes the first four of these five indoor pool cost factors.


As with any other large renovation project, you have to acquire a building permit from your municipality to put in a pool. It can cost from $25 or so dollars to a few thousand, depending on the size and complexity of your pool installation. It's also wise to hire an engineering firm to do a land survey of your property if you don't already have one. That can help you determine the optimal location, size, and shape of your new swimming pool. Your pool and pool fence must be located a certain distance from property lines; you don't want to find out later that your design doesn't pass muster.

Land Prep

Once you have building permits, you'll have to prepare your backyard for its newest feature. This means marking where you want your pool to go and then excavating that ground. Excavating will only cost between $400 and $1,500, but unless you plan on digging by yourself with a shovel, equipment rental will run you an additional $2,400 on average. Removing all trees, plants, rocks, and existing features is the most labor-intensive part, but actually disposing of the dirt you removed to create the hole is the most expensive, costing on average $13,000.


The primary material cost is the actual pool shell. When you buy a pool from a retailer, the cost typically includes installation. Depending on the material you choose—concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass—this cost can range between $500 and $5,000 depending on size and shape. The average cost of a concrete pool starts at $50,000, but that can easily soar upward of $100,000 when you add luxury finishes like flush lights and an infinity edge or install a large pool. Vinyl and fiberglass pools have a lower starting cost—$28,000 on average—but that too can increase depending on your design to upward of $50,000.


One of the most expensive parts of the process, beautiful pool landscaping to complete the project is well worth the nearly $45,000 price tag. That's the average high-end cost. The low end is only $100 on average, according to HomeGuide.


A cost often forgotten in the pool building process is annual maintenance. This includes chemicals, professional cleanings, part replacements, and, for vinyl and concrete pools, liner upkeep and replacement. The typical pool will rack up $3,000 to $5,000 in yearly maintenance costs, according to HomeGuide. That includes normal maintenance, as well as repairs, water, and electricity costs to run your pool.

Is Building an Inground Pool Worth It?

Ultimately, yes, the inground pool cost can be worth when you invest in a timeless design complete with beautiful pool landscaping. It gives your home value a 7 percent increase, according to Bank Rate. Depending on where you live, that number can jump to as high as 10 percent: In Los Angeles, for example, homes that have pools sell for about $95,000 more than comparable ones that don't, according to a recent report by real estate brokerage Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. So if you're okay with seasonal maintenance, regular cleaning, and being the best party house on the block, maybe it's time to think about a backyard upgrade.

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